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I was given about 30 10.5" Revox tapes. Some are black reels, some are gray. Does anyone know if one is older than the other? Is one higher quality? The black reels seem to run perfectly, no squeal, flutter, degrading Mylar, etc... The grays are hit and miss. Didn't know if this is coincidental or is in fact a reason.
Idiotic advice to dump the tape.
Why idiotic? I'll dump ANY tape that starts showing signs of sticky shed unless I really, really covet the recording enough to go through the problems of trying to save it.
Would agree with Dave. there is no fix for sticking/shedding tape; only a temp fix to bake it, which only restarts the clock until the binder adsorbs enough moisture to start the problem all over again.
Ironbut has the right idea. The "high output" backcoated tapes of the 70s and into the 80s had problems. I don't remember if Agfa or BASF or some other company made the Revox tape. I want to say BASF, but I'm no longer sure about that.
There were a couple brands which didn't exhibit the problem when the others did. I think maybe Maxell and Agfa. On the other hand, they might be goo by now, too. I DO know for sure that Ampex 406/407 and 456 were bad, but I still have ALL of the ones I recorded (concert recordings).
In any case, I built a tape baking "oven", and whenever I want to play or transcribe a vintage high output back-coated tape (not acetate!, and not 60s vintage), I bake it first - no questions asked! It's got two thermometers and a little computer-style fan. The heat source is two 100 watt bulbs on a dimmer to control the temperature. My comfort zone is 131 to 134 degrees F for four hours.
I don't know if the back-coating is actually involved in the stick shed problem, or if it just happens to have been a popular idea to reduce slippage and static charge for the generation of tapes which were the creme de la creme of the time.
In any case, if the OP's tapes are of that vintage, I'd dump the tape and keep the reels. Or, sell it all "as is". Or, keep a few reels (dump the tape) and sell the rest. The OP is in a unique position in that he was GIVEN the tapes, so his options are wide open. Whether they're black or gray reels would be indicative of which ones are older, but that doesn't mean that the tape formulation was different, but if they're 70s/80s vintage back-coated, it's a moot point. Although, someone on www.tapeheads.net would probably know, just for kicks.
Dump any backcoated tape (which is probably the newest) and keep/sell the reels.
If they're those nice Revox reels, they should fetch a nice price on the Bay.
I had only one of those. It was black. Squealed like a banshee :-)
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